AMD's Athlon XP: Great performance, poor marketingby Anand Lal Shimpi on October 9, 2001 7:00 AM EST
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Over the summer we were asked to visit AMD in Austin to have a look at some of their future products. When it came time to talk about the future of the Athlon processor AMD began their usual spiel about how most hardware enthusiasts and early adopters understand that clock speed isn't everything, but the average Joe doesn't. They continued to tell us about how it was time for AMD to take a leading role in educating the end user; to help them understand that there's much more to the performance equation than clock speed. This continued for a few more slides of an unfinished presentation, and it honestly sounded as if AMD was going to invest time and money into educating the masses.
So much for wishful thinking; today AMD is introducing the long awaited desktop version of the Palomino core that debuted in June. Alongside the new processor AMD is reaching deep into their bag of mistakes from the past and is bringing back the dreaded performance rating nomenclature. You heard it right the first time; this new line of Athlon processors, dubbed the Athlon XP, will not be referenced according to clock speed rather they will be assigned "Model Numbers."
These "Model Numbers" are supposed to correspond to the real world performance of the Athlon XP CPUs when compared to higher clocked competitors. While AMD will argue that the Model Numbers are used to compare the Athlon XP to an equivalently clocked Thunderbird, it's clear that the ratings are used to somehow bridge the clock speed gap between the Athlon and the Pentium 4. In the eyes of the end user that isn't well informed, the rating system may serve this purpose. We have already seen examples of Athlon XP processors being referred to by their model number as a clock speed, which is exactly what AMD wants. They want the end user to see an Athlon XP 1800+ and think 1.8GHz, thus making the comparison to a Pentium 4 1.8GHz processor. Hopefully, as well educated AnandTech readers you're able to differentiate between clock speed and real world performance.